Speedway Digest Staff

Speedway Digest Staff

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Austin Hill scored his ninth podium finish in 21 races with a runner-up finish at Texas Motor Speedway (TMS) on Sunday afternoon. The driver of the No. 16 AISIN Group Toyota Tundra scored the second-most points of any driver in the field to give himself a 27-point cushion on the cut line in the NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series standings heading into the Round 2 finale at Martinsville Speedway. Hill put on a resilient charge over the final 50 laps to come from outside the top-20 to post his third podium result in the playoffs.
 
The afternoon started smoothly for Hill after taking the green flag in third position. He immediately moved to second and challenged for the lead during Stage 1 and collected nine points in the runner-up spot on lap 45. Despite contesting the race lead, Hill fought a tire chatter and tight condition in both corners and pitted for four tires and air pressure adjustments during the stage caution on lap 36.
 
The lap 41 restart featured frantic racing as the leaders fought for position in the traction compound and shuffled Hill to sixth on lap 49. Hill’s tight condition was compounded in traffic, but the Winston, Ga. native managed to stay inside the top 10 and collected three points in eighth position at the end of Stage 2 on lap 70.
 
The event’s final stage went green on lap 78 as the intensity began to ratchet up. Hill’s tight balance persisted until a caution on lap 92 allowed him to pit for four tires and adjustments. After pitting a second time under the yellow for an extra splash of fuel, Hill restarted 23rd on lap 97 with 51 laps to go. With the help of an improved balance, Hill cranked up the aggression on numerous restarts to enter the top 10 by lap 113 and rejoined the top five on lap 123. A late restart on lap 136 allowed Hill to grab the second position and make a formidable charge at the lead. Coming to the white flag, Hill was in the process of taking the lead as the caution flew, negating his bid for the victory. He managed to hang on to second on the overtime restart to secure his best Gander Trucks finish at TMS and his third podium finish in the playoffs.
 
Austin Hill Quote:
“Once it got to the end of the race and I was battling with the No. 2 trying to get the lead, all the points and everything else kind of went out the window. I was just focused on one thing and that was getting the win. I was going to do everything I could to try to get it done. I felt like I put a really good move on him, I faked low and I went to the high side. He drove to the bottom and got tight off of four and had to get out of it and then I kind of used the lapped truck as a pick and split them. The caution just came out at the wrong time for me. I knew it was going to be tough restarting on the outside lane. It seemed like a lot of guys on the outside lane were having trouble getting going. I thought I got through the gears good. Got down on his door really good and had a good run down the backstretch. There again, it just goes back to he had a teammate behind him that was able to push him and clear me. It was kind of all said and done after that. It was really hard to pass today with all the aero and everything else. Our AISIN Toyota Tundra was still really good. I thought we had a truck that could win. It just didn’t work out for us.”
 
HRE PR

Gracie Trotter topped her Bill McAnally Racing teammates in ARCA Menards Series West action at Kern County Raceway Park on Sunday, with a top-five finish in the NAPA / ENEOS 125 Presented by the West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame.

 

The 19-year-old series rookie drove her No. 99 ENEOS Toyota Camry to a fifth-place finish on the high-banked, half-mile oval to pick up her seventh top-five finish in 10 starts this season.

 

Two of her teammates finished eighth and ninth – with series point leader, Jesse Love, eighth in the No. 19 NAPA Power Premium Plus Toyota Camry and Gio Scelzi ninth in the No. 16 NAPA AUTO PARTS/Curb Records Toyota Camry. BMR’s Holley Hollan was sidelined after contact with the wall in the No. 50 JBL/NAPA Filters/NAPA Belts & Hoses Toyota Camry and finished 15th.

 

Love won his fourth pole award of the season in qualifying and led the early laps – but had to battle back after a couple of incidents in the second half of the race. Contact from another car while racing for second sent him high in Turn 4 on Lap 80 and shuffled him back multiple positions. He later spun while trying to get to the inside of Trotter going into Turn 1 on Lap 105. He made a quick pit stop for adjustments and returned to battle back to finish eighth. It marked his first finish outside the top four this year.

 

Nevertheless, the 15-year-old series rookie retained his lead in the championship standings – with a 14-points advantage going into the season finale at Phoenix on Nov. 7.

 

Trotter started from the fifth spot and had a solid top-five performance all race. She remains third in the standings, 36 points out of first and 22 points back from second.

 

Scelzi – coming off his first career win less than 48 hours earlier at Roseville, California – started ninth on the grid. Although he made an early charge to sixth, he was not able to crack the top five and ended up coming home ninth. He is fourth in the standings – 40 points from first and just four points behind Trotter.

 

Hollan remains seventh in the standings.

 

As part of Sunday’s event, NGK VIP honorary crew members were in attendance.

 

BMR PR

Chandler Smith had a fast JBL Tundra in the opening stages of Sunday's SpeedyCash.com 400 before losing track position when he got blocked in his pit stall on his final regular scheduled stop of the event with just over 40 laps remaining.
 
While trying to battle his way back towards the front of the field, contact from another competitor sent the rear of the JBL Tundra crashing into the outside wall. The troubles compounded for the No. 51 team when a miscommunication on the subsequent pit stop saw Smith leave his pit stall before the over-the-wall crew had completed putting fresh tires on his Toyota.
 
Shortly after leaving pit road, the left-rear tire fell off the truck and Smith was forced to carefully make his way back to the attention of his crew with three tires on. The team would lose a lap in the process and despite getting the truck back to being able to maintain speed, were never able to get back on the lead lap and would end the day with a 21st-place finish.
 
With one race remaining in the Round of 8 of the owner's playoffs, the No. 51 team sits in the sixth position, 31 points behind the cutoff line for advancing to the Championship 4 with one race remaining in the round.
 
Stage One Recap: 
  • Smith started from the fifth position after a performance matrix based off his finishing position from the previous race, ranking in owner points standings and the ranking of the fastest lap he turned from the previous race at Kansas Speedway.
  • The JBL Tundra quickly advanced to the third position on the opening lap but had fallen back to the sixth position battling a tight-handling Toyota when a one-truck accident brought the opening stanza to a close under caution on Lap 33. 
Stage Two Recap:  
  • Veteran crew chief Danny Stockman ordered up a four-tire and fuel stop between stages. After exiting pit road ninth, Smith chose to line up on the bottom of the fifth row when Stage Two went green on Lap 40.
  • Three laps later, he had maneuvered his way up to the sixth position when the field was slowed for the second time. For the ensuing restart he lined up on the bottom of the second row but got put in a bad aero position and would fall back to the sixth position.
  • The JBL Tundra would finish the second stanza sixth. 
Final Stage Recap:  
  • Smith reported that the JBL Tundra was "plowing tight" before hitting pit road for four fresh tires, a chassis adjustment and fuel between stages.
  • The No. 51 Toyota lined up on the outside of the third row when the Final Stage went green on Lap 77. He was running in the fifth position when caution for fluid on the track put the team inside their pit window for making it to the end of the race.
  • After getting four fresh tires and a full tank of fuel, Smith went to exit his stall but a truck that was further back in the scoring order was still getting service in front of him and he was unable to make his way around him. After having to get pushed back by the over-the-wall crew, Smith lost several spots. Knowing it would be close on making it to the end of the race on fuel, and already having to start near the tail of the lead-lap trucks, Stockman elected to top off with fuel again before the field went green.
  • The talented teenager began making his way back through the field and was just outside the top 10 when he got hit in the quarter panel by another competitor and sent caroming rear first into the outside wall.
  • The troubles compounded for the No. 51 team when a miscommunication on the subsequent pit stop saw Smith leave his pit stall before the over-the-wall crew had completed putting fresh tires on his Toyota.
  • Shortly after leaving pit road, the left-rear tire fell off the truck and Smith was forced to carefully make his way back to the attention of his crew with three tires on. The team would lose a lap in the process and despite getting the truck back to being able to maintain speed, were never able to get back on the lead lap and would end the day with a 21st-place finish. 

KBM PR

Josef Newgarden went down swinging.

Newgarden won a wild, unpredictable NTT INDYCAR SERIES season finale, the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on Sunday, in the No. 1 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet amid a head-to-head showdown with Scott Dixon for the series championship.

Still, the winning performance wasn’t enough for Newgarden. Dixon finished third to seal his sixth INDYCAR championship by just 16 points over defending NTT INDYCAR SERIES champion Newgarden after leading the season wire-to-wire in the No. 9 PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing Honda. Dixon’s stellar 2020 season also helped Honda win the 2020 NTT INDYCAR SERIES Manufacturers’ Championship.

CLICK IT: Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg results

“It’s never just one thing or one person,” Dixon said. “For me, it’s about the team effort. We had a lot of changes in the offseason. Credit to Josef (Newgarden) and Team Penske. They drove the last part of the season flawlessly and a lot points, so that was pretty awesome to race them again. And we know next year is going to be the same, but huge thanks again to everyone on the team.”

Dixon, who won four times this season, including the first three races of the season, now sits just one title behind the all-time INDYCAR record of seven championships, set by the legendary A.J. Foyt. The championship is the 13th for Chip Ganassi Racing and its second in the last three years. Dixon, 40, who last won the title in 2018, became the first INDYCAR champion age 40 or older since Nigel Mansell in 1993.

“Well, six is good. Seven is better,” Dixon said. “That’s going to be the goal. But it’s tough. As you can see from the competition, even if you mess up just a little bit in qualifying, we had some problems this weekend and just couldn’t piece it together. Credit again to the team and just being able to pull ourselves out of that hole and stay consistent and just have a smooth race, and that’s what we did.”

Newgarden made an impressive charge from eighth on the starting grid to the lead for the first time on a Lap 80 restart in the 100-lap race as he did all he could to win back-to-back titles. Colton Herta led the field to green in the No. 88 Capstone Turbine #ShiftToGreen Honda on the restart, but he came under pressure from Alex Palou in St. Pete’s tricky Turn 1.

Palou briefly took the lead from Herta in the No. 55 Guaranteed Rate Honda before Newgarden made a daring move for the lead heading toward Turn 2, knowing that he had to do everything in his power to try to take the title from Dixon.

Newgarden withstood one more restart and immense pressure from Pato O’Ward in the No. 5 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet over the final 20 laps on his way to securing his fourth win of the season. O’Ward ended up second, 4.1409 seconds behind Newgarden.

With the win, Newgarden continued a trend of back-to-back winners on the streets of St. Petersburg. Since 2015, the race has been won back-to-back by three drivers. Juan Pablo Montoya won the race in 2015-16, Sebastien Bourdais won in 2017-18 and Newgarden won the race in 2019-20.

“No doubt, we didn’t need a full green race, so that played into our favor today,” Newgarden said of the hectic race that included six cautions. “We had the flow of the race we needed, but it wasn’t anything they gave us. We had a solid day. We needed to be fairly quick. I think we had a fairly quick car, and we just had to make some moves. That’s all we could do to try and get to the front. We outlasted everybody and did what we needed to do. We knew coming into this that fate wasn’t in our own hands. We weren’t going to be able to decide things. So, we just did what we could and hoped for the best.

“It’s definitely bittersweet. First off, congratulations to Scott and all his guys, his crew. It’s big time to win six championships. I’m sure they’re thrilled. They’re a great competitor. On one hand, I don’t really know what I could do different this year. I don’t know what I could ask my guys to do different. They were flawless. Fastest in the pits all year long. I’m extremely proud to drive for my team.”

O’Ward’s second-place finish punctuated a strong first full season in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES season. Mexican driver O’Ward ended up fourth in the championship standings behind Dixon, Newgarden and Herta.

Bourdais crossed the line fourth in the No. 14 AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet in just his third race with the team before making a full-season effort in the No. 14 in 2021, and Ryan Hunter-Reay rounded out the top five in the No. 28 DHL Honda.

The dramatic conclusion to the season marked the 15th consecutive season that the INDYCAR championship battle came down to the final race.

Meanwhile, 20-year-old Rinus VeeKay easily won the 2020 NTT INDYCAR SERIES Rookie of the Year award. VeeKay, driver of the No. 21 SONAX Chevrolet, clinched the title simply by starting the race.

Dutch driver VeeKay didn’t have a day indicative of his season. On Lap 47, he collided with rookie Scott McLaughlin in the No. 3 Shell V-Power Nitro+ Chevrolet in Turn 1. McLaughlin made contact with Marco Andretti in the No. 98 Curb / AutoNation Honda and spun around, and VeeKay had nowhere to go, hitting the front of McLaughlin’s car.

McLaughlin, who was unveiled Friday as a full-time INDYCAR driver in 2021 with Team Penske, was forced to retire from the race and finished 22nd. VeeKay lost two laps and finished 15th. VeeKay announced Sunday morning he will return to Ed Carpenter Racing in 2021.

The only street course on the 2020 NTT INDYCAR SERIES season, a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, was a dramatic race from start to finish that was not generous to the strongest cars in the field.

Pole sitter Will Power led the first five laps in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet, but a downshifting issue allowed Alexander Rossi to take the lead in the No. 27 AutoNation / NAPA AUTO PARTS Honda as 2014 NTT INDYCAR SERIES champion Power slowed on Lap 6.

On Lap 36, two-time St. Petersburg winner Power got loose exiting Turn 3 while running fourth and hit the wall. Power pulled off the course in Turn 4, ending his day and finishing 24th.

From there, 2016 Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge winner Rossi dominated the race, leading all but five laps by the time disaster struck on Lap 70.

After pitting from the lead on Lap 66, Rossi was pushing his Andretti Autosport Honda as he waited for green flag pit stops to cycle through. Then, exiting Turn 4, Rossi lost control and hit the inside wall with the front and rear of the car. Rossi finished 21st.

“I just lost it in Turn 3, man,” said Rossi, who was looking to end the season with four consecutive podium finishes. “It’s been tough all weekend. Just human error. Hugely unfortunate. I think the No. 27 AutoNation Andretti Honda guys were phenomenal. Andretti Autosport was phenomenal all weekend. It’s the first time it’s happened to me, to crash from the lead. I don’t know what to say other than sorry to the boys, and we’ll come back next year.”

Trouble also struck Rossi’s Andretti Autosport teammates late in the race. Herta, who ran second most of the race and led as late as Lap 79, overshot corners twice in the race, including once in the final run to the finish. Herta finished 11th but ended the season third in the championship standings.

Meanwhile, James Hinchcliffe, who drove the final three races in the No. 26 Gainbridge Honda, ran in the top five all race long until losing control of his car in Turn 14 under caution with just under 25 laps to go. Hinchcliffe damaged his front wing after contact with Jack Harvey in the No. 60 AutoNation/SiriusXM Honda and finished a disappointing 14th.

The NTT INDYCAR SERIES will enter a brief offseason before the green flag waves on the 2021 season at the same place this year ended: the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, March 7, 2021.

NTT IndyCar Series PR

Sheldon Creed, No. 2 Chevy Truck Month Chevrolet Silverado

START: 1st        

FINISH: 1st

POINTS: 1st

Notes & Quotes:—

- Sheldon Creed led the field to green for Sunday's race at Texas Motor Speedway and led every lap in Stage One, capturing his 10th stage win of the season. The team pitted during the stage break for four tires, fuel, a trackbar adjustment and one piece of tape on the grill. Creed ran up front for most of the second stage, ultimately finishing second in Stage Two. Creed was happy with the adjustments from the first stop and the team pitted for similar changes, adding an air pressure adjustment. Creed battled hard for the lead through a series of late race restarts and, with a push from teammate Brett Moffitt, was able to take control of the lead and fight for his fourth win of the season.

- With this win Creed punches his ticket into the Championship 4 battle at Phoenix Raceway. Creed is first in the points standings, 19 points ahead of second place.

- This is Creed's fourth win of the season and his first win at Texas Motor Speedway.

- Creed led eight times for a total of 131 laps.

- Creed has a series high 10 stage wins.

"Gosh what a learning day, honestly. I work with Josh Wise every week and all my teammates. We talk about this stuff every week. We had such a good truck, the draft would keep them with me. Man, what a good truck my guys put together. I was unsure, we've been inconsistent here but we've always had speed and today, man this is just awesome. I finally won in front of my mom and dad, they're here today. We got some fans in the stands, we love you guys! Thanks to Chevy Accessories and GMS. That's two trucks locked in for our organization, that's awesome. Hopefully we can get the other two, or at least one more, in next weekend. Just want to thank everyone. It was hard racing today. We've been working for this all year and I feel like I've improved so much and put so much work into this and to go into Martinsville stress free is so nice!"

Zane Smith, No. 21 Pit Boss Grills Chevrolet Silverado

START: 6th

FINISH: 3rd

POINTS: 3rd

Notes & Quotes:—

- Zane Smith lined up sixth for Sunday's race at Texas Motor Speedway. Smith reported his Chevy was loose in and twitchy through the middle of the corner after finishing eighth in Stage One. Smith continued to climb through the field, finishing fourth in Stage Two. The team pitted for right side adjustments, four tires and fuel. Under caution during the final stage the team was forced to double pit to reverse an adjustment made. Smith worked his way through the field, lining up fourth on the final restart and held on to finish third.

- This is Smith's fifth top-five finish of the season.

- Smith is currently third in the playoff standings, 12 points above the cutoff line for the Championship 4 with once race left in the Round of 8.

"No matter where I went we couldn't get a tire chatter out of it. Very frustrating to not be able to get the handling right, but still a good finish. I don't know how I sit on points, but we'll go into Martinsville and race our race and hopefully advance."

Brett Moffitt, No. 23 Concrete Supply Chevrolet Silverado

START: 2nd

FINISH: 5th

POINTS: 4th

Notes & Quotes:—

- Brett Moffitt started second for Sunday's race at Texas Motor Speedway. Moffitt raced inside the top five for most of the first stage, finishing third. The team pitted for four tires, fuel and an air pressure adjustment to help with overall grip. Moffitt reported he was way too tight in the traction compound during the second stage. The 23 team finished 10th in Stage Two, collecting valuable stage points. Moffitt continued to climb through the field and lined up third on the last restart. Moffitt had a major run on the last lap to push teammate to Sheldon Creed to the lead before falling back to finish fifth.

- This is Moffitt's 10th top-five finish of the season.

- Moffitt is currently fourth in the points standings, 41 points behind the leader. With his win at Kansas, Moffitt is locked into the Championship 4 battle at Phoenix Raceway in November.

"Today was a pretty solid day for us. Another win would've been great, but it was nice to still get some stage points and put us in a better position going towards Phoenix. It's awesome to see a teammate get the win and have two GMS Chevys competing for a championship at Phoenix. Ready to get to Martinsville and chase another win there."

Chase Purdy, No. 24 Bama Buggies Chevrolet Silverado

START: 28th

FINISH: 12th

Notes & Quotes:—

- Chase Purdy started 28th for his first race at Texas Motor Speedway. Purdy was the free pass during the Stage One break and the team pitted for four tires, fuel and a trackbar adjustment to help tighten up the Bama Buggies Silverado. Purdy continued to progress throughout the race, finishing 20th in Stage Two. Purdy reported the truck was a little tight in Turns Three and Four. The team pitted for four tires, air pressure and put a piece of tape on the grill. Purdy continued to climb through the field and avoided several late race cautions to finish 12th.

"It was a decent day for it being my first time ever at Texas. Really proud of my guys for not giving up all day and continuing to help me make the truck better. We have a lot that we will be better on the next time we're here."

Tyler Ankrum, No. 26 LiUNA! Chevrolet Silverado

START: 9th    

FINISH: 16th

POINTS: 8th

Notes & Quotes:—

- Tyler Ankrum started ninth for Sunday's race at Texas Motor Speedway. Ankrum reported that his Silverado was very tight and the right front was "absolutely obliterated." Ankrum finished 14th in the first stage and the team pitted for four tires, fuel and adjustments. The team pitted during Stage Two to make a big adjustment to the front of the truck to help Ankrum's tight condition. The 26 team pitted from 17th at the second stage break for four tires, fuel and a slight air pressure adjustment after Ankrum reported the handling was better and manageable after the adjustments. Ankrum had a battery connection come loose late in the race and was forced to pit unexpectedly, putting him a lap down. Ankrum later got the free pass on a late race caution and worked to finish 16th.

- Ankrum is currently eighth in the playoff standings, 79 points behind the cutoff for the Championship 4 with one race left in the Round of 8.

"Tough day for us overall. Our LiUNA Chevy was tight from the drop of the green flag. The team made adjustments all day long to improve it, but we just got stuck back in the pack and couldn't move around to pass. We had a battery issue late in the race that set us back and we were just fighting from there. We'll put this week behind us and go into Martinsville and try to win."

GMS Racing PR

Raphael Lessard scored his career-best mile-and-a-half finish in Sunday's SpeedyCash.com 400 at Texas Motor Speedway. Lessard started in the 20th position and worked his way through the field to finish fourth.
 
Stage One Recap:
  • Lessard started in the 20th position after a performance matrix based off of finishing position from the previous race, ranking in owner points standings and the fastest lap from the previous race at Kansas Speedway.
  • When the first caution flew on Lap 34, Lessard had fallen back to the 22nd position and would finish the stage there. 
Stage Two Recap:  
  • At the stage break, Lessard radioed to his crew that his CANAC Tundra was loose throughout the racetrack. Veteran crew chief Mike Hillman Jr. summoned his rookie driver to pit road to tighten up to the No. 4 CANAC Tundra as the over-the-wall pit crew administered a four-tire and fuel stop. Lessard would restart in the 17th position.
  • During the second caution on Lap 44, Lessard was running 16th and radioed to this crew that his truck was better but that he was having problems with his gas pedal. Under the caution, Hillman summoned his driver onto the pit lane to fix the issue. The rookie driver had to make a second pit stop under the caution on Lap 46 due to a flat tire. He would restart in the 23rd position.
  • Under the third caution, Lessard was running in the 21st position and stayed out. He restarted in the 20th position.
  • Lessard finished the stage in the 18th position. 
Final Stage Recap: 
  • Under the break, Lessard radioed to the CANAC crew that his Tundra was better than the previous runs. Hillman summoned his driver to pit road for a small adjustment, four tires and fuel. Lessard would restart in the 15th position.
  • When the fifth caution of the day flew on Lap 93, Lessard radioed to his crew that his CANAC Tundra was "pretty good." Hillman summoned his driver to pit road for the final stop of the day. After the pit stop, Lessard was asked to save fuel in the event of a green-white-checkered finish. He restarted in the 14th position,
  • After four caution periods over 21 laps, Lessard worked his way up to the eighth position when the ninth caution of the day flew. After staying out, Lessard restarted seventh,
  • As the field was under the first and only green-white-checkered event, Lessard worked his way up to fourth before a caution in Turn 2 ended the race under yellow. 

KBM PR

Christian Eckes was battling a top three in the closing laps of Sunday's SpeedyCash.com 400 when Ben Rhodes turned into the left corner panel of the No. 18 Tundra on the frontstretch and sent Eckes hard into the outside wall near the start-finish line. The Safelite Tundra came to rest in the infield grass with severe damage and left Eckes with a disappointing 25th-place finish.
 
Stage One Recap: 
  • Eckes started from the10th position after a performance matrix based off his finishing position from the previous race, ranking in owner points standings and the ranking of the fastest lap he turned from the previous race at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City.
  • He advanced to eighth in the opening laps of the stage but fell back to ninth in the middle of the segment as he reported to be in need of more grip.
  • The New York native made his way back up to the seventh position when a one-truck accident on Lap 33 brought Stage One to completion under caution. 
Stage Two Recap: 
  • Eckes communicated to veteran crew chief Rudy Fugle that he needed more grip in his Tundra before hitting pit road for four tires and fuel between stages.
  • The Safelite Tundra would line up on the outside of the fourth row when Stage Two went green on Lap 40. A one-truck accident put the field under red-flag conditions on lap 44 with Eckes scored in the sixth position.
  • Shortly after electing to start from the top of the fourth row again for the ensuing restart, the New York native slid up the track and fell back to the 12th position. Another one-truck accident slowed the field on Lap 52 with the No. 18 Toyota in the 11th spot.
  • Eckes this time elected to start in the top of the sixth row and the move paid off as he settled into the ninth position with 10 laps remaining in the stanza.
  • Despite being "a little free" in the closing laps, he was able to gain one more position and finish Stage Two in the seventh position. 
Final Stage Recap:  
  • Fugle ordered up a four-tire and fuel stop with a chassis adjustment in an effort to improve the handling of the Safelite Tundra for his young driver.
  • A speedy stop by the over-the-wall crew allowed the No. 18 team to line up on the outside of the second row when the Final Stage went green on Lap 77. Eckes would settle into the third position until the field was slowed for the fifth time on Lap 93 for fluid on the track.
  • On the ensuing restart, the Safelite Tundra lined up on the bottom of the second row and by the time the field came back to the start-finish line had made his way into the runner-up position.
  • A two-truck accident slowed the field for the sixth time on Lap 106 with the 19-year-old driver in the third position. He communicated to Fugle that his Toyota was "a little free." After the ensuing restart, he lost several positions and was in the seventh spot when the next caution occurred on Lap 118.
  • After hitting pit road for four fresh tires and fuel, the rookie driver lined up on the top of the fourth row for the restart on Lap 122 but fell back to eighth when the yellow flag flew for the eighth time on Lap 129.
  • The next restart was better for Eckes as he went from the bottom of the third row to battling for a spot inside the top three. With just two laps remaining he was passing Rhodes for the third spot when he got turned into the outside wall and ended his strong run.
  • After coming to rest in the infield grass, the No. 18 team's day was done, and the official result was a 25th-place finish. 

KBM PR

Derek Kraus drove the McAnally-Hilgemann Racing No. 19 Shockwave/ENEOS Toyota Tundra to another top-10 finish at Texas Motor Speedway on Sunday, following an up and down event in the SpeedyCash.com 400.

The 19-year-old series rookie was in the top 10 for most of the race and in the top five on several occasions, but ended up finishing ninth after battling back from a late pit stop. It marked his 12th top-10 finish in 21 starts this season.

After starting 11th on the grid, Kraus quickly charged to fifth place in the first six laps. He was later shuffled back to 11th, where he finished the first stage. He worked his way up to fourth by Lap 60 and finished one position behind that when the second stage concluded on Lap 70. After a pit stop, he restarted 13th.

In a move to gain track position under a subsequent caution at Lap 92, Kraus only took on fuel during his pit stop. He led briefly and battled to remain in the lead pack, running against trucks with fresher tires.

Kraus pitted for tires and fuel during a caution on Lap 106 and lined up 20th for the restart. He battled for track position through the remaining laps, getting back into the top 10 with less than 20 laps to go. He crossed the finish line in ninth in an overtime finish.

Derek Kraus – Thoughts about this week

Another top-10 finish. How was your race as a whole?

“We started off really strong, and just battled for track position all day. It’s really tough to pass when there’s the PJ1 or VHT or whatever you want to call it on the racetrack. It’s really tough to pass; you try to stay up front. We kind of fell back a bit and were crawling trying to make our way back to the front on these restarts. Our SHOCKWAVE Toyota is clean, and overall, it was a good day.”

BMR PR

Seven-time NASCAR Cup Series Champion Jimmie Johnson and fellow series driver Clint Bowyer, both making their final fulltime series starts at Texas Motor Speedway, were honored today prior to the start of the Autotrader EchoPark Automotive 500.
 
During the speedway’s Texas Lottery® No Limits Live! Pre-Race Show, Johnson unveiled a “Jimmie Johnson Winner’s Circle” sign above the entry gate to SpeedyCash.com Victory Lane. He was also presented with a one-of-a-kind pair of cowboy boots from Lucchese Boots.
 
Johnson, the No Limits, Texas all-time NASCAR Cup Series win leader with seven, will conclude a fulltime NASCAR premier series career which began in 2002 but will continue his professional racing career by running a partial schedule of the 2021 NTT INDYCAR SERIES season.
 
Bowyer twice finished runner-up (Spring 2011, Spring 2019) in 29 starts at Texas Motor Speedway. He was presented with a cowboy hat but, instead of a pair of Smith & Wesson 629 Deluxe six-shooters traditionally given for winning a NASCAR Cup Series race at the Great American Speedway, he was presented with a kid’s pair of cap-gun pistols.
 
Bowyer, one of the all-time great personalities in the sport, will conclude a 16-year NASCAR Cup Series career that includes 10 premier series victories as well as the 2008 NASCAR Xfinity Series championship. He will move into the Fox NASCAR broadcast booth next year.
 
“Jimmie and Clint are tremendous ambassadors of our sport, both on and off the track, so we wanted to do something special for their final time here behind the wheel of a NASCAR Cup Series car,” said Texas Motor Speedway President and General Manager Eddie Gossage. “Jimmie knows his way to SpeedyCash.com Victory Lane better than anyone so it was appropriate to do something special for him there. We decided to have some fun with Clint because there’s no one better than him in the NASCAR garage to define fun. The great thing with both is they will continue to make great contributions to the sport in their new roles.”
 
TICKETS:
Adult season tickets for Texas Motor Speedway’s 25th season in 2021 season start at just $169 with season tickets for kids ages 12 and under starting at just $30. Tickets are also on sale for this Sunday’s Autotrader EchoPark 500/SpeedyCash.com 400 NASCAR playoff doubleheader and can be obtained at www.texasmotorspeedway.com/nascar-indycar-tickets/individual-tickets or by calling (817) 215-8500.
 
MORE INFO:
Keep track of all of Texas Motor Speedway’s events by following on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Keep up with all the latest news and information on the speedway website and TMS mobile app.
 
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